“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race that has been set before us, keeping our eyes on Jesus, the one who began and completed the faith. For the sake of the joy that was waiting for him, he suffered the humiliation of the cross, and now he is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.” Hebrews 12:1-2
Consider for a moment that you are competing in a marathon. You’ve been putting in a lot of work in the gym for the past several months, but as you get closer to the halfway mark, you start to feel exhausted. It hurts in your thighs and lungs, and you’re not even sure if you can keep going.
Then, all of a sudden, you hear a large group of people clapping and yelling for you from the sidelines. They are creating a rhythm for you to follow by clapping their hands, holding up signs with encouraging slogans, and shouting words of support at you.
At first, you are unsure as to whether or not their assistance will be sufficient to assist you in completing the race. However, as you continue running, you realize their energy is infectious. You start to experience a newfound sense of strength and a revitalized drive to carry on regardless of how difficult things get.
That’s the strength of having someone behind you. When we surround ourselves with people who believe in us, support and encourage us, and push us to be the best versions of ourselves, we can do things we never would have thought possible. We can find the motivation to keep going, even when we feel like giving up since we know we are not the only ones going through this. As Christians, we require this kind of encouragement and support. The journey of discipleship encompasses one’s entire life.
Run with perseverance the race that has been set before us–The writer to the Hebrews
In the same way that a runner needs to train and practice to continuously increase their endurance and performance, we as Christians need to consistently engage in the practice of spiritual disciplines in order to grow in our faith. People who have spent their lives trying to cultivate a closer relationship with God or progress on their spiritual path have engaged in various spiritual practices throughout human history. The following are some of the most widespread ones:
Prayer: Prayer is a means by which we can speak with God and convey our thanks, concerns, and desires to him. It can take many forms, such as structured prayers, spontaneous prayers, or prayers done while meditating.
Bible study: Bible Study is a spiritual practice that entails reading and reflecting on passages from the Bible to comprehend their meaning and how they relate to everyday life.
Fasting The practice of fasting entails abstaining from food or other items for a certain length of time as a means of centering one’s attention on God, seeking His direction and guidance, and achieving a higher sense of spiritual clarity and refreshment than one might otherwise achieve.
Meditation: Meditation is a technique that involves stilling the mind and concentrating on a single thing or idea, such as a passage from the Bible or an awareness of God’s presence, to develop a more profound sense of our connection to the spiritual realm.
Worship :The act of expressing our love and devotion to God via music, prayer, or other forms of praise is known as worship. Worship can take many different forms.
Service: Serving others is a method of putting our faith into action, following the example set by Jesus by serving those who are in need and expressing God’s love to the world. We do this by following Jesus’ example of serving those in need and demonstrating God’s love to the world.
Confession: The act of recognizing our transgressions and failings in front of God and pleading for His pardon while also seeking His counsel on improving our lives is referred to as confession.
Solitude: Setting aside time to be alone with God, listening to His voice, and contemplating His presence in our life are all aspects of the practice of solitude.
These practices, which can either be done on one’s own or in community with other people, can assist us in developing a stronger connection to God, increasing one’s level of spiritual awareness, as well as one’s capacity for experiencing inner joy and peace to a higher degree.
The Christian life is a journey filled with numerous highs and lows. The following are some of the most frequent ones:
Peace and Joy: When we acknowledge Jesus as our Lord and Savior, we are given the knowledge that we are forgiven and loved by God. This knowledge brings with it a sense of peace and joy in our lives.
Grow in your faith and become more like Christ as you pray, study the Bible, and fellowship with other Christians. This is what is meant by “spiritual growth.”
Purpose: Believing in and following Jesus Christ gives our lives meaning and purpose in a way that nothing else can. We are conscious of the fact that we have been commissioned to serve God and to effect positive change in the world.
Community: We are not intended to make it through this journey on our own. As we continue to follow Christ, we are welcomed into a community of other believers who serve as a source of support and encouragement for us.
Even if we are Christians, we still struggle with giving in to temptation and immorality. It’s possible that we’ll revert to previous habits of behavior or have difficulty establishing new ones.
It’s possible that there will be periods in our lives when we struggle with doubt and confusion, questioning whether or not we are truly carrying out the will of God or whether or not we are on the correct road.
Persecution It is possible that following Christ will require us to suffer persecution and rejection at the hands of individuals who do not share our religion.
Dryness on the spiritual front: There may be times in the course of our journey when we experience a sense of separation from God or have difficulty understanding what He is saying to us.
It is essential that we do not forget that God is with us at all times, especially in the difficult times, and that He can use those trials to mold us and bring us closer to Him. The process of becoming a disciple of Jesus Christ is analogous to ascending a steep mountain. Along the way, you’ll encounter a variety of unexpected challenges, including steep inclines and declines, winding paths, and sharp turns. There are moments when the travel is uneventful, and we are able to appreciate the breathtaking scenery that surrounds us. On other occasions, the route is difficult, and we have to contend with steep ascents and rough terrain.
Imagine a hiker who is on the path to the summit of a mountain. The trail is lengthy and difficult, and the hiker will encounter a variety of obstacles along the way. The first part of the excursion consists of a strenuous ascent up a rocky trail. The hiker experiences feelings of strength and self-assurance, and the surrounding landscape is breathtaking. The sun is shining brightly in the sky, and the air is nice and fresh.
On the other hand, as the hiker advances further up the mountain, the terrain becomes increasingly difficult. It is difficult to obtain stable footing on the trail due to the presence of pebbles and tree roots. The temperature of the air is dropping, and clouds are beginning to block out the sun.
The hiker experiences growing fatigue and a growing sense of despondency. The traveler begins to experience apprehension and uncertainty, and they begin to question whether or not the trip will be worthwhile. But then the hiker is reminded of the goal of the trip, which was to reach the top of the mountain and take in the breathtaking view.
The hiker continues on, despite the fact that the path appears to be impassable. The hiker becomes more powerful, more determined, and more dependent on God with each step that they take. The journey starts to focus less on arriving at a certain location and more on the process of maturing into a more Christ-like person.
The determined hiker makes it to the top of the mountain after a long and difficult climb. The hiker feels a sense of success and amazement as they take in the magnificent view at the top of the mountain. The trip was difficult, but it was well worth it to reach the destination.
In the same manner, our walk with Christ is full of highs and lows, but as we go on through them, we mature spiritually and grow more self-sufficient, determined, and dependent on God. The end goal is significant, but the journey itself is equally vital since it forms and molds us into the people that God intended for us to be.
The Christian faith teaches its followers that they must press on through difficult times. As followers of Christ, we are commanded to persevere in the face of adversity, failure, and difficulties throughout our life. These tests can manifest themselves in a variety of ways, including challenges to one’s body, emotions, or spirituality.
Keeping our attention fixed on Christ in the midst of testing circumstances is one of the most important things we can do to endure adversity. It is easy for us to forget that God is with us and that He has a plan for our lives while we are going through difficult times. There is a possibility that we will have feelings of being overpowered or discouraged, and we may even wonder why we are going through such difficulties.
However, if we keep our focus on Christ and put our faith in the things that he has promised, we will have the ability to persevere through these difficult times. We have the ability to find solace and direction in the written Word of God, and we also have the ability to rely on the support of our fellow Christians. We can ask God for his guidance and strength to help us deal with the difficulties that are inevitably going to befall us.
Keeping a viewpoint of faith when going through difficult times is another key component of the process of persisting. When we are confronted with challenges, there is a strong temptation to fixate on those challenges and allow ourselves to get paralyzed by worry or dread. However, if we put our faith and reliance on the omnipotence and benevolence of God, we can have confidence that He will cause everything to work out for our good (Romans 8:28).
When we push through difficult times, we have the opportunity to develop both our faith and our character. Our tenacity, faith, and trust in God can all be strengthened and refined through the experiences of adversity. We might even be able to use our experiences to encourage and help those who are going through something similar to what we have been through. To make it through difficult times, you need faith, concentration, and perspective. We are able to survive the trials that are sent our way and grow in both our faith and our character if we concentrate our gaze steadfastly on Jesus Christ and place our confidence in His power.
Christians are encouraged to participate in various spiritual disciplines in order to strengthen their relationship with God, advance in their spiritual development, and more closely resemble Jesus Christ. These disciplines consist of things like praying, studying the Bible, fasting, worshiping, spending time alone, and serving others. Although these activities are helpful and essential for spiritual development, it is essential to keep in mind that they are not a way to merit salvation or gain God’s favor. This is something that cannot be earned.
There is nothing we can do to earn salvation; it is a free gift that can only be received by trust in Jesus Christ alone. It is written in Ephesians 2:8-9, “For it is by grace that you have been saved through faith.” And this is not something you have accomplished on your own; rather, it is a gift from God and not the result of your own efforts so that no one may brag about it. We cannot earn our way into paradise, nor can we make ourselves more acceptable to God, no matter how much spiritual discipline or good actions we perform.
In a similar vein, engaging in spiritual disciplines is not a means by which one might exert influence on God or win His favor. God’s love for us is unchanging, and there is nothing we can do to change the amount of affection He feels for us. Instead, spiritual disciplines are a means by which we can respond to the love and grace of God and develop our relationship with Him.
The effort and intentionality that we put into our connection with God is necessary, just as it is with any other relationship. The development of our relationship with God can be enhanced and deepened through the practice of many spiritual disciplines. They assist us in bringing our hearts into alignment with His and in developing a more profound intimacy with Him.
The spiritual disciplines that we engage in are not a means by which we can earn salvation or God’s favor; rather, they are a means by which we can react to the love that God has shown us and grow in our relationship with Him.